Bakemonogatari (Ghostory) Review
Bakemonogatari is one of those shows you either love or hate. Watching the pilot episode, I was put off by the striking colour scheme and confusing flashing text introduction. The frequent slow motion and 3-D close up shots of characters didn’t give a pleasant first impression either. Its definitely not for those who are new to anime and even after watching the whole season, I’d agree with anyone that calls the series “weird”. It was hard for me to put sum up everything about this show so please forgive me if I miss out on something important.
The content sounds reasonably normal. Bakemonogatari (Ghostory) is about Araragi Koyomi, an ex-vampire, who helps out 5 unusual girls with their supernatural problems with the assistance of a specialist, Oshino Meme. Araragi is the typical selfless nice guy who is unconditionally kind and allows himself to get abused or hurt in the place of others, which usually turns out fine because he has a near-immortal body thanks to his ex-vampirism.
It sounds like a pretty generic harem themed show structure, and I’d be lying if I said that the show doesn’t have any harem elements. But unlike most shows with many girls surrounding one guy, Araragi is actually not an idiot. He’s a little bit perverted and a lolicon, but is absolutely loyal to Senjogahara while still being very kind to the other girls, except maybe Hachikuji.
Another thing that separates the show from a typical harem (*Ahem InfiniteSratos*) are the girls’ personalities. They aren’t just there to provide different types fanservice like loli and moe, they also each have a distinct relationship with Araragi and have vastly different temperaments.
The main female character and Araragi’s girlfriend, the enigmatic sadist Hitagi Senjogahara, is something else altogether. Its hard to classify her as a tsundere even if she claims to be one herself because her insults and condescending tone on Araragi can be seen as playful.
She doesn’t show her emotions in a conventional manner, saying things like she’ll kill the person that kills him as a sign that she cares for him and almost stabbing his eye when he mentions another girl to her. Nonetheless Araragi never takes her extreme behavior the wrong way and it makes them feel like a real couple with all their quirks.
Another thing that was impressive was the pacing. Although its only 15 episodes (12 if you only count aired ones), the show has 5 arcs, each focusing on a different girl and her supernatural problem, complete with a different opening song and animation. Amazingly, none of the character’s backstories feel underdeveloped; there are no huge unanswered questions or parts of the story where you wonder just what the writer was thinking.
The themes of each arc that could have been presented as heavy and depressing are all very lighthearted at the cost of some depth in the story. But the great characters compensate for the slightly shallow plot.
The plot content isn’t just shoved in your face either, it comes along smoothly through a lot of surprisingly comical dialogue that keeps you entertained until the relatively deeper story elements kick in. The arcs are just the right length to tell the story at 2-4 episodes, but can sometimes makes the story feel choppy. That said, the story doesn’t have any drastic changes, which is okay since Araragi is basically helping to lift curses off girls.
The art style, which is usually very standard aside from lighting and colour tweaks, is actually a key aspect of Bakemonogatari. Without it, the series would be unimaginably different and probably very mediocre. Every other scene feels like it could be a standalone art piece and the occasional heavily animated action sequences are extremely well done. Sometimes it even feels like the scene’s emphasis is on the art rather than the characters.
During less graphic scenes, like walking, the show flashes to a “black scene” or a coloured scene with words in context with the situation. This sounds annoying and takes some getting used to but it cuts out unneeded animation, giving more time and budget to the important scenes.
The sound in Bakemonogatari is surprisingly impressive. The opening theme for the first arc, Staple Stable is the best opening sung by a seiyuu I’ve ever heard. Chiwa Saito not only pulls off singing a great opening, she also carries the voice of Senjogahara, one of the most complex characters I’ve seen so far. The background music is simple and goes well with the overall mood.
All the voice acting is top notch (even I know the animes these seiyuus were in).
Kana Hanazawa, Tenshi from Angel Beats, plays Nadeko,
Yui Horie, Siesta from Zero No Tsukaima, plays Hanekawa Tsubasa,
Miyuki Sawashiro, Iwasawa (the main singer) from Angel Beats, plays Kanbaru
Emiri Kato, Hideyoshi from Baka to Test, plays Hachikuji.
I expected Bakemonogatari to be an action/suspense filled supernatural mystery thriller. Instead it turned out to be a romance/comedy with supernatural themes on the side presented with stunning visuals (unless you stream it) and one of a kind, slice of life standard characters.
Simply put, it turned out to be a fantastically unique masterpiece that sets a new standard for animes. The only downside I can imagine is that the show never revealed Araragi’s encounter with the vampire and how he managed to convert himself back.
Thanks for reading till the end! If by any chance, you somewhat agree, please comment, it means alot =)
Posted on January 25, 2012, in Anime, Otaku-ism and tagged Araragi, Bakemono Gatari, Ghostory, masochistic, review, romance, Senjogahara, supernatural, superstition. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.